Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2/01/06, Metro NY: "Taxpayers pick up tab for stadium demolition"

Taxpayers pick up tab for stadium demolition

Millions in city park funds to be used to tear down Yankee, Shea ballparks

by patrick arden / metro new york

FEB 1, 2006

BRONX — New York Yankees president Randy Levine likes to count the ways the Bronx community will benefit from the team’s new stadium project. At the top of his list is the city’s “$130 million investment” in replacement parkland.

But according to the Yankees’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the cost of replacement parks will be $103.3 million, not $130 million. That extra $27 million will go toward moving a water main and demolishing the House That Ruth Built.

“The demolition costs will come out of the parks’ money,” said Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion.

That’s like double taxation, marveled Bettina Damiani of the fiscal policy watchdog group Good Jobs New York. “Taxpayers have to pay to tear down the current Yankee Stadium so the team can build a new one on parkland,” she said.

While the Yankees and the Mets will be financing the costs of building their new stadiums, the two projects are relying on more than $443 million in state and city subsidies. The price of wrecking Shea Stadium will be deducted from the $90 million that city taxpayers are handing over for “infrastructure costs,” according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Shea’s subsidies have gotten a lot less attention than the government money going to the Yankees, in part because the Bronx ballpark will be sitting on more than 22 acres of parkland.

This fact has sparked protests by residents, but Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion believes a community benefits agreement with the Yankees will end up helping the neighborhood, with “at least 25 percent” of construction contracts going to Bronx businesses. Levine also said the stadium will create “at least 1,000 new jobs.”

“By and large those permanent jobs are low-wage, seasonal jobs without career opportunities,” Damiani said. “It’s expensive to create bad jobs. Why are we going to invest millions of tax dollars in bad jobs, where workers will still have to rely on the government to pay for their health and child care? We’re doing this on behalf of one of the wealthiest franchises in professional sports.”


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